Sunday, 13 May 2012

Barbey Couloir

Knowing that there was only two days left until Grandes Montets closed for the season, I wanted to make use of the lift and ski something from the GM.

Billy Bhoy and me at the top

Cutting a way through the cornice

Going back for either the West face of the Chardonnet or the NE Slope of the Courtes were two of the ideas I was thinking about. After speaking to a friend who'd just skied the Barbey couloir on the Aiguille du Argentire and said it was really good, I started to take a fancy to this.

Bouche was keen for a big day out on the hill as so we headed up on first bin to give ourselves as much time. When we arrived at the basin we met three other skiers going for the Barbey as well. They were pretty strong skiers and broke trail most of the way up. A would like to say that I was being tactiful in staying back a bit a not catching them so they'd be breaking trail, but honastly I felt quite tired was happy to sit back a bit and not be up there first. As it was happened though I caught them up just when we had to start boot packing, and I did my fair share of trail breaking then.

Deep snow at the start

Bouche riding some features

We reached the top at about  1 o'clock. The conditions looked really good at the top. Further down it did look like there was a lot of runnels from all the snow pouring down. The Americans went on left side of the face and we entered on the right. We both had to chop away at the cornice to allow us onto the face.
The snow at the top of the couloir was so deep. It made the angle seem a lot less than 47°. It was possible to take some variations on the way down but I think the better snow was in the main part of the couloir. There was a few sharks (rocks) about which sometimes gave your skis  a wee nibble. Most of the turns were really good, and snow stayed really soft most of the way down. After about 2/3 of the way down it got a bit heavier and rutted from the runnels. Bouche managed to hit one of these runnels square on which knocked him over and he ended up losing a pole! 

We skinned around the base of the Aiguille du Argentire then boot packed up the north side to the Col du Chardonnet and skied back down to the basin. Bouche found  this all really interesting skinning up and skiing down with one pole.

We were planning to stay at the Argentire hut where Graham was going to Join us, and we would all go ski something the next day with an early start. Unfortunately the hut was fully booked so we decided to head back down to Chamonix.

Bouche slashing the pow

The next day was the last day of Grandes Montets, so I thought I'd go up there and enjoy the last turns of the season!! 

It's just irresponsible to go on the hill
without crevasse rescue gear!

Not a lot of snow left now!

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